Legendary Wars Hands-On Preview

Since we first watched the trailer for Legendary Wars, which you can check out below, we’ve been eager to try it out for ourselves. We were immediately impressed by the game’s beautifully-animated characters and backgrounds, but how does it actually play?

Legendary Wars feels like a mash-up of Plants vs. Zombies and Lord of the Rings, with a bit of those castle defense games like Trenches as well. On most levels, you’ll have to gather resources and create an army to destroy the enemy’s castle, but you’ll also play some interesting minigames as well.

A typical round goes like this: You’ll start by recruiting a dwarf miner to bring you gems from a mine that’s always in the background. When this dwarf has your gems, he’ll come out and wave it around, so you can tap on him and collect your treasure. This mechanic feels a lot like collecting sunshine in Plants vs. Zombies.

Then, you can raise an army. In the first set of levels, we only had access to two: knights and elves (called “Knighties and Elfys” in this game). Each unit will stick to one of three lanes until you move them, and you can order them to advance, retreat, hold their ground, or use a special attack. A few levels had us play defense, waiting to withstand a gang of skeletons or zombies, while a few put us on the offense.

Between rounds, you can upgrade your units with different gems that are awarded after each successful battle. This takes place in a great-looking castle environment, where you can also add more miners and build up your castle’s defense. Eventually, you can unlock more units, like wizards, golems, and unicorns.

Legendary Wars also includes the occasional minigame. In one, we had to “recruit” Elfys by running past them while dodging obstacles on the ground. These missions felt similar to auto-running games like Canabalt, but they were very brief and served mainly to mix up the gameplay.

Legendary Wars has a fantastic look to it– every character is sharply detailed and well-animated. Plus, the game has a fun sense of humor, which comes across in the dialogue. One skeleton miniboss taunted us by saying “You’d be getting on my nerves– if I had any.”

This is the very first iPhone game from Liv Games, and we’re impressed by its quality so far. Though the game’s genres are well-established on the App Store, Legendary Wars might actually outdo the official Lord of the Rings game for high fantasy entertainment. Look for Legendary Wars to hit the App Store in January 2011.

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